This article is part of Raydiant’s Re-opening of Brick and Mortar series which interviews top retail industry experts to better understand the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the sector, how retailers should prepare for the re-opening and what trends, challenges and changes are expected over the next few months.
The following is an interview we had with Lynn Xu, Chief of Retail Solution, Clobotics.
What will the re-opening of brick and mortar retail look like?
LX: Traditional brick & mortar shops will see a strong rebound. Although more consumers joined online shopping during the lockdown, they have done so without much choice and they experience lots of frustration of lacking choices, having to wait very long, cancelation of orders, or wrong delivery. They’ll re-embrace physical shopping even more that comes with appreciation of the freedom and the authentic ‘see is believing’ experience. Retailers that provide better online-offline holistic service are the winners.
What should retailers be doing now to prepare for the re-opening?
LX: Retailers should prepare for a big appetite of consumers looking for varieties when they come back to the store. They’ll look for ‘treats’, not necessarily luxurious but make them feel a little indulged. Attractive shelf displays, promotion on ‘rewarding me’ type of products, and occasions will revive their love of shopping.
How will COVID-19 impact consumer behavior over the long term?
LX: Hygiene categories are and will continue benefiting post Covid19. More people may join the preppers thus stocking more products whenever there is a deal. Consumers will go to extremes – spending more on the basics or indulging more when they can. Mid-tier products may suffer more and see tougher recovery.
What will be the lasting effects of COVID-19 on brick and mortar retail?
LX: What can’t break you makes you stronger. Brick and mortar retailers who survived Covid19 will continue building their online muscle and emerge even stronger should new rounds of lockdown occur. This means they need to build a much stronger supply chain management in response to a much bigger range of peak and valley sales and continue investing in more resources to improve the online shopping experience.
What retail technologies will see adoption accelerated due to COVID-19?
LX: Technologies that can digitize brick and mortar stores, that can make brands, retailers, and consumers “see” the store in real-time will fly. Real-time vision of the brick and mortar store enables brands and retailers to take immediate action, therefore providing an optimal shopping experience to their consumers.